A Global History of Sexuality
Robert Buffington is an Associate Professor of Women and Gender Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. His books include Criminal and Citizen in Modern Mexico (2000), Reconstructing Criminality in Modern Latin America (co-edited with Carlos Aguirre, 2000), Mexico: An Encyclopedia of Contemporary Culture and History (with Don Coerver and Suzanne Pasztor, 2004), True Stories of Crime in Modern Mexico (co-edited with Pablo Piccato, 2009), and Keen's Latin American Civilization, 9th edition (co-edited with Lila Caimari, 2009). Eithne Luibhéid is an Associate Professor of Gender and Women's Studies at the University of Arizona. She is the author of Entry Denied: Controlling Sexuality at the Border (2002) and Pregnant on Arrival: Making the 'Illegal' Immigrant (2013), as well as co-editor of Queer Migration: Sexuality, U.S. Citizenship, and Border Crossings (2005). Donna J. Guy is Distinguished Professor of Humanities and History at Ohio State University. Her publications include Feminisms and Internationalism ( co-edited with Mrinalini Sinha and Angela Woollacott, Blackwell, 2000) , White Slavery and Mothers Alive and Dead (2000)and Women Build the Welfare State: Performing Charity and Creating Rights in Argentina, 1880-1955 (2009).
A Global History of Sexuality
Sexuality and the Nation-State
Sexing the Nation, Nationalizing Sex: An Introduction
A 1906 article in the Far East News reported the arrest of thirty-year-old Kazutoshi in Dalian, Manchuria. Kazutoshi turned out to be of greater interest to the authorities than a common thief would have been. He was discovered to be "a cripple," part male and part female. After classifying him a "strange double-sexed person," government officials probed into his past. They discovered that Kazutoshi had been born with the name Fuji - and as a woman. The tale appeared in the newspaper under the title, "A Woman Found to Have Testicles" (Algoso 2011).
Kazutoshi's story evoked a number of binaries (opposing categories that define each other through contrast) - man/woman, heterosexual/homosexual, normal/pathological - that had become indicative of a modern understanding of sexuality by around 1900. This chapter traces the emergence of this modern understanding of sexuality and its relation to politics - in particular, the politics of nation building. It builds on the well-established assumptions that nation-building efforts the world over have been permeated with sex talk, and that sex talk has been permeated with themes rooted in the way the people view nation-states - both their own and others. As early as 1982, pioneer historian of sexuality George L. Mosse was insisting that scholars could no longer treat the nation and sexuality as discrete and autonomous constructs but must instead consider them two of the most powerful, intertwined discourses shaping contemporary notions of identity (Mosse 1982; Parker et al. 1992, p. 1). This chapter illuminates this claim through the examples of three distinct nation-states - Japan, the United States, and South Africa. As we will see, in each case, notions of modernity and what it meant to be a modern nation-state were tied to establishing and maintaining the binaries that Kazutoshi's case evoked: man/woman, heterosexual/homosexual, normal/pathological.
Of course, neither "sexuality" nor "nation" is a simple notion. Although many of us accept nation-states as part of the "natural" order (like sexuality), neither nations nor states have existed at all times and in all circumstances. 1 Moreover, postcolonial theorists such as Homi Bhabha (1990) have insisted that no single model can adequately represent the myriad and contradictory forms taken by nation-states in the modern era. Nevertheless, we can fruitfully examine the interaction of nation building and the construction of modern sexualities in a wide range of possible configurations even if crafting a global historical narrative necessarily entails acknowledging differences and similarities in how various nation-states around the world have framed that interaction. Among other things, the nation-building process has often meant pitting scientific truths against religious beliefs, changing both in the process. Government officials cum public health experts have employed science speak and the "language of truth" in order to colonize ever more spheres of human life, including sex, and to manage ever smaller details of citizens' everyday existence. They have justified this intrusion in large part by invoking the rhetoric of liberation from the yoke of tradition, religion, and superstition - from an undesirable precivilized or premodern state of being. Modern life including sexual behavior, they have insisted, must be measured, counted, considered comparatively, reformed and, in some places, revolutionized.
Like nation, the concept of sexuality has a history. Once "sex" signified a vague amalgamation of biology, nature, and culture. In modern times, "sexuality" has become popularly understood as the bi